Stellenbosch sits right in the Western Cape province along the beautiful Eerste River. It’s one of the oldest European settlements in the area and also goes by the City of Oaks after hundreds of oak trees were planted to honor the city’s founder. Along with its rich history, it’s also one of the biggest wine growing regions of South Africa, which produces over one billion liters every year. Along with indulging your interest in wine, you’ll find plenty of other things to do in the town.
Best Places to Stay
If you’re interesting in a relaxing stay among the regions vineyards, try L’Avenir Country Lodge. Another good option is the Lodge at Delaire Graff Estate, which sits off Helshoogte Pass, and boasts privacy, luxury rooms and sweeping views of the valley. If you’re planning to take in the region’s rich history during your stay, the Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel & Spa should do the trick. The hotel is right in the center of historic Stellenbosch among the galleries and museums and you’ll stay in a room in this restored private home build in the 1700’s.
Prominent Wines of the Region
Cabernet Sauvignon is truly king here with very rich wines grown in the warm slopes near Simonsberg and fresh, tighter wines grown near the shore. Cabernet is also very prominent in the Bordeaux-style blends. Given the region’s widely varying soils and altitudes you’ll find vibrant Sauvignon Blanc, rich Chardonnay, full-bodied Shiraz and South Africa’s signature Pinot Noir-Cinsault cross, Pinotage.
When to Visit
The best time to visit is from January through March, which is harvest time in South Africa. The weather is also very cool during the early summer from October through November. If you plan your trip for the end of January, you can enjoy the Stellenbosch Wine Festival and enjoy wine tastings from the best wines of the region.
Wine and Food in Stellenbosch
Because so many of the countries best wineries are found in the Stellenbosch area, you’ll want to either commit to many days of wine touring or come up with a targeted strategy. Some of the best properties to visit include Tokara, Vilafonte, Vergelegen, Kanonkop and the Warwick Wine Estate. The Vergelegen Estate its a massive and modern winery on a hill surrounding by 300-year-old camphor trees and sticks with classic wines while Kanonkop produces only red wine and it’s considered a First Growth, an honor that shows they have a very consistent record of excellent wines.
Other Things to Do
Wine isn’t the only thing to appreciate in Stellenbosch. The area is a true mecca for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, from horseback riding and golfing to the area’s many mountain bike trails. If you head to the nearby Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary you can take in panoramic views of the area and spot springbok, red hartebeest, eland, grysbok and Burchell’s zebra. The Klapmutskop Renosterveld Conservancy is another popular destination for moonlit hikes.